"Hey, you here alone?"
Stiles turned toward the feminine voice with a look of surprise. There was a girl talking to him. Voluntarily. He was kinda staring a little, but it only made her smile wider. He ducked his head as a blush spread across his face. "Um, no, not really. There's Scott over…" He raised his head to point out Scott but Scott was nowhere to be seen. They were supposed to meet up with Allison and Lydia at some point so no doubt Scott had found them and was sequestered somewhere with his girlfriend. "Um, somewhere. I don't know."
The girl smiled. "Do you want another drink?" She tapped the top of his empty cup. "I make a mean mixed drink."
Stiles smiled shyly. "I've got enough mean in my life. How about a genial mixed drink?"
She laughed. Stiles was a little bit amazed. He wasn't used to making girls laugh, at least not at his jokes. Lydia laughed at him all the time, but that was a little different.
"I'm Cassie, by the way," she said as she took the cup from his hand. "Be right back."
Stiles watched her slip through the crowd into the kitchen with a slack jaw. He had to tell Scott, right away. He pulled out his phone and tapped out a quick message – A girl talked to me! Voluntarily! – before shoving his phone back in his pocket and trying to look chill while he waited. Cassie returned a few minutes later with two cups of what looked like Coke and something. He took a sip of his drink and smiled.
"This is good," he said, and it was true. He could barely taste the alcohol in it, which made it actually drinkable. Whenever he tried mixing a Rum and Coke, it always came out like shit. "I'm Stiles, by the way."
Cassie smiled back at him. "Told you I was good." She sipped at her own drink. "So you live in town?"
Stiles nodded. "Yeah. I go to Beacon Hills High. You?"
"Devenford Prep. Any sign of your friend? Scott, wasn't it?"
"Yeah." Stiles shrugged. "He's probably off with his girlfriend. Doubt I'll see him til he wants to leave."
"Pity. I guess I'll just have to keep you company til then. Unless you have a girlfriend you're waiting for?" She took a sip of her drink and regarded him over the rim.
"No, no." Stiles took a hasty gulp of his drink. The thing was half gone already and he was starting to feel a faint buzz. "No girlfriend for me."
Cassie smiled. "No boyfriend either, I presume?"
Stiles's brain instantly went to Derek and he shook his head rapidly to dispel that idea. He wished. "Sadly, no."
Cassie shifted closer. Her smile was practically predatory. "Such a shame." Her hand rubbed down his bare arm and he shivered even though he was feeling a little warm. "Beacon Hills High girls obviously don't know what they're missing. And they're missing a lot, aren't they?"
"Uh…" For once, Stiles was absolutely lost for words. They'd gone so far off script that he didn't know how to act. How does one pick up chicks? The last girl that had come even close to hitting on him was Erica and she'd followed that up with literally hitting him with a part from his car and dropping him in a dumpster. Not exactly the greatest track record there.
Cassie pressed even closer, her lips hovering inches from his ear. He could feel the press of her chest against his arm and he knew his face was turning red just from that touch. "Tell me, Stiles, have you ever been with anyone before?"
He shook his head minutely. She seemed pleased with his answer. Her hand trailed down his spine and he couldn't hold back another shiver.
"Do you want to get out of here?" Cassie asked, her smile was coy but her eyes were blazing with anticipation.
"Um." Should he say yes? No? He could practically hear his father lecturing him never to go home with strangers but he'd never get rid of his virginity that way. "Sure?" he said, not entirely convinced it was what he wanted to do but he could already imagine the amount of teasing Jackson and Isaac would give him if they found out he turned down an offer for sex.
Cassie knocked back the rest of her drink and he followed suit. She took his cup from him and set it on a side table before taking his hand in hers. Her touch was electrifying. Stiles felt like he was suffocating inside and he was more than happy to let her lead him into the cold night air. He stumbled a bit as his feet hit the sidewalk.
"God, what did you put in that drink?" Stiles asked. He was really starting to feel the alcohol, even if he hadn't tasted it.
"Nothing to worry about." She led him to a red compact a little bit down the street and helped him get in the passenger side. The fact that she had to help him was a little bit worrying. It felt like his limbs didn't want to cooperate anymore. The passenger door shut and then she was circling the car to get in the driver's side. She pulled away from the curb. Stiles stared out the window in a bit of a daze. The world seemed to be speeding past him, spinning in a way that made it hard to focus on anything in particular.
He blinked and then they were walking through the trees, Cassie's hand in his as she led him surely through the dark woods.
He blinked again and he was lying down. His arms were stretched over his head and his chest was bare. His forearms hurt. He smelled blood. He shifted but he couldn't move. There was something holding his arms and legs in place. Someone – actually, several someones – were chanting. A robed figure with a bloody knife in hand stood over him. There was a strange sort of tingling sensation beneath him and he could feel it starting to course through him and out of him, heading into the robed figure. He resisted without really knowing what he was resisting, he just knew that people who tied other people to trees never had the best intentions, usually. The tingling sensation built inside of him and he tried to hold on to it, to keep it from going to the stranger.
The robed figure cursed and grabbed at Stiles's throat. Sharp nails pricked his skin. He shook his head and then regretted it as the movement caused the world to spin dangerously. The robed figure shrieked and then stabbed the knife into Stiles's chest. He screamed but he didn't let go. The figure stabbed him again and again, but he wouldn't give in. He'd die before he gave in. He was dying. He could feel it.
The figure shouted in fury and slashed the knife across Stiles's throat. The screaming stopped. The world went black. Stiles didn't let go.
Lydia screamed. Around her, partygoers stopped and turned, silence descending on the once boisterous lawn. Scott and Allison were at her side in seconds, one on each side. Jackson was only a moment behind.
"Lydia, what's wrong?" Allison asked, concern etched on her face.
Tears rolled down Lydia's face, though she couldn't remember when she'd started crying. "Stiles," she gasped. "We have to get to Stiles."
Jackson scoffed and opened his mouth, but Lydia tuned him out, turning to Scott who had his phone out. It was ringing but no one answered.
A sound like a sonic boom ripped through the air, smashing into Lydia like a tremor in her bones. Scott and Jackson quickly ducked their heads as their faces shifted. They were back to human seconds later but the unease inside of Lydia only grew. She didn't know how she knew Stiles was in danger, but she knew it, like she knew the sky was blue and her name was Lydia. "We have to go." She pulled Allison along with her. The others followed.
"I don't kn-" But she did know. "The Preserve." She could feel Stiles like a distant beacon calling to her.
Even as they piled into Allison's car and sped down the road, Lydia already knew they were too late.
Derek's coffee mug shattered on the floor as he gripped the counter top, claws scratching against the tile. He breathed deeply, forcing back the partial shift. In other parts of the house, he could hear his betas doing the same. He turned away from the counter, leaving the mug where it lay, and headed out the back door, building up speed as he ran towards the tree line. He could feel his betas following him. Whatever had caused him to shift involuntarily, it was nearby. He could feel it and he wasn't sure it was anything good. There was a strange sense of urgency in his bones, drawing him forward, making him run faster, dodging through the trees with supernatural speed.
He smelled blood. Not just any blood, but a familiar kind of blood. Stiles's blood. A roar ripped from his lips as he charged into the clearing, claws out. He stopped dead in his tracks, the betas forming a loose circle behind him. Erica gasped. There was no one left to fight.
Twelve female bodies ringed a large tree stump, with a thirteenth slumped against the wood. They weren't what caught Derek's attention. Tied to the tree stump was Stiles, his arms and torso covered in blood. Derek strained his ears for a heartbeat.
He took a cautious step forward. He could smell Erica's tears. Boyd moved to comfort her while Isaac stood stock still, frozen in place. Stiles's eyes were closed. He wasn't breathing. Derek's hand shook as he knelt on the wood, reaching out to touch Stiles's neck, searching for a pulse. There wasn't one.
Derek wondered if he should call Scott. He should, but he didn't. Scott wouldn't want to see Stiles like this. Derek didn't want to see Stiles like this. He moved to the side of the tree and gently worked his claws through the ropes binding Stiles's arms. They fell away and Stiles's hands dropped limply to the tree trunk. Derek circled the tree to get Stiles's feet. He stared down at Stiles's body, guilt welling in his chest. He should have done something. He should have saved him, though he hadn't even known Stiles was in danger.
They should move him. Get him cleaned up. Take him to Deaton.
A twig snapped behind him and Derek turned. As if summoned by his thoughts, Deaton stood at the edge of the clearing, a deep frown on his face. More noise sounded from the west and Derek watched as Lydia, Scott, Allison, and Jackson stumbled into the clearing. Lydia's hand went to her mouth and she turned away, burying her face in Jackson's shoulder. Allison reached for Scott, but he was already moving, falling to his knees next to Stiles's body with a heart-wrenching scream.
Derek looked away. He'd seen enough grief in his lifetime, felt enough that he didn't need to take in any more. He had his own grief to work through, he realized. He would miss Stiles. He would grieve him.
Deaton stared forward, his face blank, almost as if he were waiting for something.
He didn't have long to wait. Scott gasped and Derek turned as Stiles sat up. His eyes glowed a deep emerald green. There was a sort of shimmer around his body, almost an aura of power. He stood and stepped forward, ignoring the stammered words that fell from Scott's lips and moving purposefully towards Derek. This wasn't Stiles, Derek realized, but something else. Stiles's hand lifted and Derek fought the urge to flinch away. He was curious what this other entity would do.
"Alpha," Stiles's voice said. As his hand settled on Derek's chest, right over his heart, Derek felt a surge of energy leap between them and another presence settled in his mind right next to where Boyd, Erica, Isaac, and Jackson were. Stiles – or the entity inside Stiles – had joined itself into his pack. The green glow faded and Stiles's eyes rolled back. He fell and Derek was quick to catch him. His body was warm when Derek expected cold. A heartbeat thrummed beneath his palm.
Stiles was alive.
Stiles sat up with a gasp and an aching head. He pressed the butt of his palm to his forehead but it did nothing to ease the pounding tempo inside his skull. He felt like he had the world's worst hangover, but it went beyond that. Everything hurt, not just his head, but every inch of him down to his toes. He groaned.
"Finally," a voice huffed to his left, making Stiles startle and jump. He turned to stare at Lydia. She sat in an armchair, her phone hanging loose in one hand. "You're awake."
Stiles blinked. This was not his bedroom. This wasn't even his house. If he had to hazard a guess, he'd say he was in one of the guest bedrooms at the Hale house but he'd only ever peeked inside them, never slept there. "Uh, I…" He was missing something big. Like how he'd gotten into bed and why Lydia was here. The last thing he remembered was being at some party. "What?"
Lydia raised an eyebrow. "Do you want to be more specific?"
He swung his legs over the side of the bed. Movement hurt. His joints felt stiff, like he'd stayed too long in one position, but he couldn't help the feeling that he should be doing something. Anxiety ate at his skin, making him shiver and twitch. He wanted to run but he didn't know where to run to. "What happened?"
Lydia looked down at her manicured nails and picked at a cuticle. "We were hoping you would tell us that."
"Me?" He shook his head, trying to get rid of some of the fuzz clogging his brain. He could feel focus coming back to him but there was still that pounding, like a tidal wave trapped in the back of his skull. "I don't… I don't remember anything." There was something he needed to do. He stood and then stopped as he realized he was wearing someone else's clothes – a loose grey Henley that hung off his shoulders and a pair of Beacon Hills High sweatpants that nearly fell off his hips. "How did I…? What happened to my clothes?"
Lydia shrugged. "They were a lost cause."
Stiles narrowed his eyes at her. "Why?"
"All the blood."
"Blood!?" Stiles groped at his chest but he couldn't feel any injuries.
"You're fine now," Lydia assured him.
"How?" Shit, was he a werewolf now? He didn't feel like a werewolf. There was no super hearing. He tried to make his nails turn into claws but nothing happened.
Lydia shrugged again. "We don't know. We found you like that."
"Found me?" He didn't like the sound of that.
"In the woods. Tied to a tree stump."
Images flashed through his head and Stiles fell back against the bed, his hands going to his head automatically as if he could keep it from splitting apart. He remembered something, vaguely. "Witches. There were witches. They drugged me."
Lydia nodded. "We think they were using you as some sort of sacrifice."
Stiles closed his eyes and swallowed. He remembered the way the girl – Cassie – had smiled when she'd asked if he'd ever been with anyone. "Virgin sacrifice."
Lydia's eyebrow twitched a fraction higher but she thankfully didn't say anything. Stiles could feel his face heating. God, how embarrassing. He'd been roofied by a witch and used as a virgin sacrifice. Could his night get any better?
A thought came to him and Stiles raised his head, listening. The house was silent. The Hale house was never silent, at least not when Stiles was here. The betas were always making some kind of noise. Speaking of… "Where is everyone?"
Lydia looked down at her nails again like they were the most interesting things in the world. "Dealing with the unicorns outside Barnes and Noble."
"I'm sorry, what now?"
"Unicorns," Lydia said, like she was talking about the weather or what to have for lunch.
"Unicorns? Just out there in the open? Where people could, you know, notice?"
Lydia frowned. "We've got a bit bigger problems than that right now."
"What's bigger than unicorns outside Barnes and Noble?" Stiles's voice rose as he spoke, going a bit shrill at the end.
Lydia turned her phone to face him. It was open to CNN's homepage. Right atop the page in big, bold letters was "Monsters Alive! Nation in crisis!"
"Jesus." Stiles leaned back against the bed and scrubbed a hand across his face. "So, this shit is, like, everywhere now?"
"Mmmhmm," Lydia hummed. "Worldwide. Deaton thinks that whatever happened when the witches…" She waved a hand at Stiles and frowned, looking away from him to study the wall. "It set something off. Broke a veil or something. Supernaturals are everywhere now."
Stiles swallowed. "That doesn't sound good."
"No, it's really not."
Stiles dropped his head into his hands. This was horrible. He could just imagine what kind of hell his dad was going through. Were the deputies even qualified to handle this kind of stuff?
No, no they weren't. That's why Derek and Scott and the rest of the pack were here. It was their job to handle that kind of stuff.
Stiles straightened. He felt power thrum inside of him, like it approved of his decision. Like he could do something about the chaos that their world had been plunged into.
"Okay," Stiles said. "Okay. Let's go deal with some unicorns. Everything else is just going to have to take a number."
Lydia smiled as she stood and patted him on his cheek. "Atta boy."
Stiles paused as they walked out into the hallway, a thought occurring to him. "Though, before we go, do you think we can find me some real pants?"